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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

364                        SPERMACETI AND AMBERGRIS                       CHAP>
Sperm Whale. Spermaceti as a drug appears to have been first
mentioned in the pharmacopoeias of the famous medical school of
Salerno towards the year 1100. But it was confounded with a
totally distinct substance, viz. ambergris. The confusion was also
made by the famous alchemist Albertus Magnus, and by the
observant Archbishop of Upsala, Olaus Magnus, in his work
De gentibus septentrionali'bus. It was supposed in fact by these
writers to be the liberated sperm of the Whale, hence obviously
the name. Later on, the substance in question was regarded as the
brain of the Cachalot, in fact as late as the middle of the eighteenth
century. It was Hunter and Camper who really discovered the
true nature of the substance, oil of course, in the cavities of the
skull.1 The h uge skull of Physeter " is perhaps the most modified
from the ordinary type " of skull in the whole mammalian class.
The top of the skull rises into a huge crest lying transversely,
and from it slope forward two lateral crests formed from the
maxillary bones ; in this great basin, lies the spermaceti already
referred to. The skull, as in Toothed "Whales generally, is ex-
ceedingly asymmetrical. The right prernaxillary and the left
nasal bones are much larger than their fellows ; indeed the right
nasal is hardly present as a separate bone. The parietal if pre-
sent is fused with the supra-occipital. The jugal is large, and is
ii'»: divided into two pieces as it is in the Ziphioids. The ptery-
goids meet below for a considerable distance, as in many Dolphins,
and in the Edentata among other mammals. The symphysis of
the lower jaw is very long, but the bones do not appear to be
ankylosed. The length of the symphysis recalls that of the
Grangetie Dolphin, PZatanista.
In the vertebral column the atlas alone is free, the remain-
ing cervicals being fused. There are only eleven dorsal vertebrae,
eight lumbarSj and twenty-four caudals. The breastbone of this
Whale is a roughly-triangular bone made up of three pieces-
Four cartilaginous sternal ribs are attached to this bone* The
scapula is remarkable for the fact that it is concave on the outer
and convex on the inner surface; otherwise it is quite typically
Cetacean in form. The shortness of the pectoral limb is shown
by the phalangeal formula, which is as follows:—I 1, II 5,
III 5, IV 4, V 3.
* See Ponetiet,   ** Contribution  a rhistoiie du sperm««ti," S&rgens Museums
X893, No. 1.